|08-14-2012, 03:04 PM||#1|
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New data suggests Arctic could be ice-free within 10 years
New data from a European weather satellite has suggested that Arctic ice is melting so quickly that by 2022 there could be days when the Arctic is completely ice-free. "Very soon we may experience the iconic moment when, one day in the summer, we look at satellite images and see no sea ice coverage in the Arctic, just open water," said Dr. Seymour Laxon, a climate scientist with London's Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling and a member of the Cryosat-2 Science Advisory group.
The Cyrosat-2 satellite was launched in 2010 by the European Space Agency, specifically to measure the thickness of Arctic ice. Scientists with the CPOM have analyzed the data and found that the ice has been melting about 50% faster than previously thought.
Losing the Arctic ice cap would cause coastal flooding and could accelerate climate change as warming oceans release more methane into the atmosphere.
Although these findings raise alarms, Dr. Laxon cautions that the study is still in its preliminary stages and the melting rate could slow down in the future.
Earlier this year, scientists reported findings from NASA and Germany Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites that showed that smaller glaciers and ice-sheets, such as those in Alaska, South America, and the Himalayas, were melting at a rate that, while still significant, was slower than predicted.
Weather patterns are part of the reason for different melting rates.
Greenland recently experienced two unusual warm weather spells that parked over the area for days at a time. This caused nearly the entire ice pack there to experience at least some melting, and fractured off a chunk of glacier the size of Manhattan. Climate records have shown that this kind of event happens every 150 years or so, with the last one occurring in 1889.